While many of us would prefer to be immune from the commerce of Valentine’s Day, who among us would seek exemption from the understanding of pure love? Today, Poetry Fridays turns to Elizabeth Barrett Browning who triumphed over a suffocating childhood, campaigned long against the oppression of women and found enduring devotion in her beloved Robert. Predictably, she offers us foresight, insight and a vision of love for its own sake — exempt from fashion, ageless and timeless as well.
If thou must love me, let it be for nought
Except for love's sake only. Do not say
'I love her for her smile—her look—her way
Of speaking gently,—for a trick of thought
That falls in well with mine, and certes brought
A sense of pleasant ease on such a day'
— For these things in themselves, Beloved, may
Be changed, or change for thee,—and love, so wrought,
May be unwrought so. Neither love me for
Thine own dear pity's wiping my cheeks dry,
— A creature might forget to weep, who bore
Thy comfort long, and lose thy love thereby!
But love me for love's sake, that evermore
Thou mayst love on, through love's eternity.
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